blogging from the student's perspective

Archive for November, 2010

Ready… Break!

Thanksgiving break was exactly the recharge I needed. It gave me time to gather my bearings and catch up on all the work I have before the approaching finals. While at home I was asked by various relatives and friends about my classes and almost everyone was so intrigued to hear about the practicum more than anything else. They had never heard of a class like this and were so amazed at the great potential the class had.  In addition, all of their responses were quite typical. They, like me before this class, had no idea that bird strikes were such an issue. I told them all about LOI and how our class was trying to help. This showed me firsthand how necessary it is to spread our goals out into the public. Overall I had a great time discussing this with my family and I think I really got them to understand how anyone can help make a difference with just some subtle changes.


Thanksgiving Revelations

I got to go to my Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. She LOVES birds, and her house is always decorated with tons of bird sculptures and trinkets. Her Christmas tree always has bird ornaments. So as I sat at the table after eating a turkey for dinner and spoke to my aunt about the practicum, I could see Grandma listening with interest from the couch. I was eager to hear what she had to say, but didn’t think I would get anything out of her other than a joke about birdbrains. Then, when I was talking about LOI and how the lights of buildings attract birds to cities, Grandma spoke.
“Who decided that?”
“Who decided what, Grandma?”
“Who decided that birds are attracted to lights? Did they ask a bird?”
“Some researchers did. They found that building lights disorient the birds and that causes them to get off track when they’re migrating.”
It seems as though even a bird lover was not believing it. I did my job to trying to convince her it was real, but I’m still not sure how much she believed me. My aunt brought up the bird brain joke, saying birds are dumb and there isn’t really anything we can do about that. I told them that’s why we need to help them, but she proceeded to go on and on about how one of her cats brought her home a frozen bird and the subject of LOI was done.

If we’re going to get people to participate, we have to make them believe. In the next few weeks, the Outreach group will be doing some things to increase awareness of the our window strike theory. One of these things is making a short film that let’s you see a window strike from a bird’s perspective. I am looking forward to filming this soon.


I recently arrived back on campus after a very relaxing break and preparing for the final three weeks of the semester.  As the end of our project approaches, I have tried to finish up any new brainstorming or ideas for LOI and start the shift into producing the finished product.  As you know, I am working with the outreach group and after exploring different methods of outreach; I believe that I have found a very effective tool for LOI.


For a long time I have heard about LinkedIn however, I never really used it or fully understood it’s capabilities.  LinkedIn is a professional business network that allows for users to connect with colleagues (past and present), to ask questions and explore opportunities with other businesses, experts and colleagues.  For example, LOI could ask questions to other conservation groups and even other groups that have the same purpose.  Beyond asking questions, it is possible for LOI to recruit businesses that would support them.  They could use LinkedIn as a method to contact businesses and buildings in the Indianapolis area and educate them about LOI.  I just created an account (its very quick and simple) to explore some of these options and to generally get a better feel for the website.  There are two different options for profiles, one free and one about 25 dollars a month.  There are many more options with the paid profile and is something that should be considered by LOI.


Overall, I am very excited to be nearing the end of the project. I think that we have and will produce a very good end product that will hopefully bring LOI closer to success.




Turkey Time

Over the break I have really had time to relax and do some casual reading.  The design group plans on deriving a regional LEED point on using bird friendly design techniques.   I have spent quite a bit of time on the LEED website ( and have had a difficult time navigating and understanding some of the information.  For example regional credits are broken down per state, then per zip code, then to a number on an excel spreadsheet.  There is no information about what the numbers mean or where to find out what the numbers mean.   This is just a personal frustration…

However, there are many other problems with the website.  If I weren’t taking this class and had a general understanding about what LEED and the USGBC are I think it could be difficult to understand what they are based on the information provided on the website.  I’m sure it is an invaluable resource to those who know what the information is and where to access it, but to those who don’t it is a completely different story.  I think more attention should be paid to making a more public-friendly website with more basic information and how to get involved.  For example, architects and building contractors who aren’t familiar with the LEED initiatives have a difficult understanding the incentive or understanding the regional LEED credits.

Perhaps mapping out a new website could be a concept for a future practicum project.  I’m fairly confident if you poll America an overwhelming majority of citizens would not have heard of the LEED initiative and even less could understand what it is.  A great effort is needed in educating the public in these areas…hopefully our effort will be effective in creating awareness for other programs as well as help LOI.

-C. Siegel

The BIG Picture

Being in this class has given me a much better idea of how important it is to keep the big picture in mind when working on a project of this nature. It’s easy to get bogged down wanting to see immediate results for one’s hard work, but not all projects work like that—especially in the field of conservation. As a student, I feel that I have been conditioned, to an extent, to think short-term. When is my next test? What grade did I receive on my paper? This classroom experience has really changed that perception. It is safe to say our focus has somewhat shifted from where it originally was, but I do not view this as a negative. Seldom do things of this nature go one hundred percent according to plan. More important than the actual modifications to the plan is how the team responds to these changes. If we can maintain a high level of enthusiasm as a class for the remainder of this project, I am sure that we still have a very in-depth, helpful report for Don Gorney and Lights Out Indy. Years from now, it really will be great to see how far the program has come and to know that we helped it along the way.


Weather Effect?


Hey all, to my knowledge birds migrate towards a warmer climate that produces resources necessary for their survival.  However, I have noticed the past couple days that it has been warm for being November. It is crazy how the weather continues to be nice, when we are used to snow at this time of year. I was wondering if there was any way for a bird to stay in the same location for the full year, that is normally a migratory bird. Do you think birds would create an evolutionary adaptation to stay in the local habitat?  This would save the bird a lot of energy if the weather was nice year round, supporting the necessary resources.  Also in this sense, do you think that global warming will have an effect on migration in the future?

My group has recently been switched from the public outreach group to just the outreach group. Instead of focusing on just the general publics knowledge of Lights Out Indy, we figured the building managers and architects should have knowledge about the program too.  This will allow the people in charge of the buildings to have better understanding of Lights Out Indy. The buildings will receive pamphlets detailing Lights Out Indy and how it pertains to the building, what the affects are and the benefits.  The architects will receive a different pamphlet educating them on how building style affects Lights Out Indy. The general public will receive information about LOI and how to get involved. The reason for the switch is to educate everybody because LOI is still in early development.  This will get the word out quickly to educate people about Lights Out Indy.





To the Tower!

The migration season is ending but that does not mean that bird awareness should begin to be overlooked. Just because it is not high season does not mean that the steps we take now cannot help the following years. As our class continues we keep brainstorming and combining ideas our group has settled on a list of targets to aim towards. Our LOI partner, Don Gorney, shared with us this  list of the 20 tallest buildings in Indy. (The link is shared below.) This gave us a good place to begin since many of these are highly lit at night. The number one on this list is Chase Tower standing 49 floors. This became a focal point. Our goal became to try to gain the following of one of Indianapolis’ major icons and that perhaps that will give us the reputation we need in order for more to follow.

View 20 Tallest Buildings in Indy in a larger map
This week I also hope to get in touch with IPL in order to gain some insight to real numbers or costs for nighttime energy usage.